In a work world divided by remote, hybrid and on-site office workers, how do employers create a top-notch workplace culture?
The past year has seen a radical change in business operations as companies face a range of challenges, ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, through great resignations to supply chain backups and employee shortages.
Not so, a new normal developed as companies scrambled to hang on to their employees and keep them busy.
To highlight the best of the best, the Southern California newsgroup is starting the nomination period for its annual Top Workplace Awards program. The survey gives employees a chance to celebrate an inclusive workplace culture that empowers them to succeed.
This year marks the 15th event in Orange County and its ninth in the Inland Empire. We asked last year’s winners to share how they’re adapting to and succeeding in this new normal.
Optima Tax Relief CEO David King and his Santa Ana-based company occupied the No. 2 slot among Orange County majors in last year’s Top Workplaces survey.
The company has 680 employees, including 100 in its Arizona office, and King said about 85% of them are currently working remotely and enjoying their new work/life flexibility.
“The great resignation certainly hit us,” he said. “Employee engagement was much easier when we were all in this together, but our employees have proven they can perform at a top level working remotely.”
King said Optima has worked to maintain an atmosphere of bonding among employees, despite the fact that most employees no longer come to the office every day.
“We are working in the community outside of work, as well as doing charitable events and fun events on-site,” he said. “It really ties them together. We’ve also improved our training programs. They used to be fragmented, but we combined them into a training program that everyone goes through. We’re very objective about all of this are.”
Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Inland Empire’s big company winner in last year’s Top Workplaces program, has also pivoted.
“We have become agile and adapted to change,” said Paul Lucido, chief marketing officer at the Corona-based company. “About 90% of my employees are now working from home, and probably 75% of our total workforce is working remotely.”
Lucido said Paramount employees have adopted the work from home model.
“They’re saving money on gas, so theoretically they all got a raise,” he said. “The morale has been good, although there’s still more to be said about collaborating and working together at a moment’s notice. But I can still make a whole team on the Zoom screen.”
Lucido said the company’s production volume grew by about 13% in 2021 to $16.9 billion in funded loan volume.
“We are a progressive company,” he said. “We’ve really opened our minds to not being so harsh. ‘Faith, family, health, work’ is our mantra.”
Regardless of workplace culture, a recent survey shows that many employees are re-evaluating their options.
Data collected from more than 2 million workers surveyed by Energage had many asking, “Is this really what I want to do with my life?”
The results show that employee engagement was 61.6% from January to March 2022, compared to 62.9% in 2021 and 65.3% in 2020.
Company loyalty is also falling. It peaked at 74.4% in April 2020, but dropped to around 65% in the first quarter of 2022.
Southern California economist Robert Kleinheng said the labor market is tight.
“People might say the labor market isn’t much different than it was before the pandemic, but the dynamics behind the numbers tell me that we’re not seeing growth as a whole — especially in the youth part.”
The supply of Gen X and millennial workers remains fairly stable, Kleinheng said, but there aren’t nearly enough young workers aged 18 to 24 to open the backfill when employees leave their jobs or retire. .
“The labor market is essentially at full employment, but there are no new reservoirs to tap,” he said. “Nationally, the number of employment opportunities far exceeds the number of unemployed.”
Tait & Associates, a Santa Ana civil engineering and environmental services firm that ranked eighth in Orange County’s midsize category in last year’s top workplaces results, has held its own.
“We are doing really well at attracting talent,” said Trevor Tait, the company’s managing partner. “We have a culture of kindness and one that values creativity. We’re flexible in where people work. We’ve put those pieces together and see a lot of benefits.”
Tait said some employees have opted to leave, but those slots have been filled.
“Many people are evaluating too many things in their lives,” he said. “Some people made career changes, and we support that because we’ve got a lot of new talent.”
Tait & Associates has 220 employees scattered throughout the western US, with 110 in Orange County and the rest in the Inland Empire, San Diego, Northern California, Denver, Dallas, Bossy, and Atlanta.
Tait said the company worked to maintain a level of camaraderie among its employees in Orange County.
“We have monthly parties and other fun events in the office that cause our employees to see people in person,” he said.
how to participate
Top Workplace enrollments are open to any organization with 35 or more employees who will evaluate their workplaces in a 24-question survey.
All enrollments must take place by June 24, and the results will appear in December and January. Last year, 23,645 Orange County employees and 14,895 Inland Empire employees took part in the survey.
Those participating in the Top Workplace Enrollments for Orange County can find the survey here, and the Top Workplace Enrollments for Inland Empire businesses can be found here.